In a nondescript classroom at the De La Salle Professional Schools, Ramon V. del Rosario Graduate School of Business, Prof. Rene "Guy" Concepcion, swimming coach and 1988 Seoul Olympian, posed a challenge in his class, Staging of Sporting Events. As De La Salle Graduate School of Business is the only MBA program offering a Sports and Recreation Management course in the Philippines, the students there often conjure notions of being the veritable think-tank for Philippine Sports. For what would a diverse bunch composed of a robotics consultant, an events organizer and a fitness administrator among others, possibly have in common? "We're just passionate about Sports!" chirps Atty. Barry Tobias, a lawyer with his own law firm practice.
But little did the group know, they were about to put their learning to the test - an actual internship in organizing a major sporting event, the 70th UAAP Swimming Championship at the TRACE Aquatic Complex in Los Baños, Laguna, site of the 2005 South East Asian Games aquatics events.
The challenge seemed daunting indeed: Would an institution as enduring and prestigious as the UAAP get out of its comfort zone to bring its delegates outside Metro Manila, despite the lure of TRACE's world-class facilities?
Still, the prospect of running this historic event thrilled Dave Rescober, a technology consultant for Hewlett Packard. "The experience of organizing a sports event of this stature is an experiential learning that otherwise, I will never gain within the four corners of the classroom."
While many of us view and play Sports for the love of the game, Elviro Alcoseba, gym owner, sees no reason why Sports can't be a lucrative business that one can enjoy at the same time. "In other countries, Sports is a burgeoning industry. Locally, we haven't tapped Sports to the fullest yet. There is so much potential."
Thus, Sports Management Solutions (SMS) was born in September 2007. The diverse "mix" of the SMS crew offered an advantage to Liela Fernandez, Fitness and Training Director at Gold's Gym. "Having people with different work backgrounds, different disciplines in sports, different management styles allow me to take a step back and analyze my present status - to see where else I can venture in terms of job and business opportunities."
While deliberations continued, the prospect of "racing at TRACE" had created a tremendous buzz among the parents of the participating In the days to come, SMS countered each potential "barrier" swiftly. Given the limited time, each member pitched in to secure additional funding by identifying all possible revenue streams such as souvenir program sponsorship, long-term ex-deals and mobilizing the coaches and parents. SMS was overwhelmed by the response of individuals and corporations alike just because the UAAP Swim Meet will be at TRACE. Athletes' parents started booking at TRACE Suites for the intended competition dates. This was an ominous sign to SMS that they were on to something.
Still, Anna Evangelista, swimming coach for De La Salle - Zobel is appreciative of everyone's efforts. "My SMS team works hard and inspires me with their integrity and unconditional love for making things happen. My swimmers in Zobel would be very glad to meet each person behind SMS!". SMS hopes that holding the UAAP Swimming Meet at the TRACE Aquatic Complex will be much more than a project management exercise. "Sport is a product that needs to create emotion in order to be attractive to the fans and to the sponsors. But ultimately, we want everyone to come away with a great experience," remarked Dina Bernardo, a National Athlete.
As D-Day approaches, Edster Sy, robotics consultant and aspiring certified basketball coach, can't contain his excitement. "We believe in giving athletes the best chance to excel in their sport by providing them the best venues. I am looking forward to seeing the happy faces of the UAAP athletes when they race in TRACE."
To borrow the old adage from the baseball movie FIELD OF DREAMS: If you build it, they will come.